Creating Positive Experiences for Kids

Play is an important part of every child’s life — it is the way they learn about the world. During times of stress, such as hospitalization or medical treatment, play, music and activity can provide a safe and familiar outlet for a child’s or teen’s emotions. Preparation and support for experiences will also help children and teens understand what to expect, correct any misunderstandings they may have about their experiences, and help them build healthy coping skills to promote long-term resilience. 

The Child Life team at Arnold Palmer Hospital is staffed by:

  • Child Life Assistants
  • Child Life Specialists
  • Healing Arts Specialists
  • Music Therapists
  • Therapeutic Recreation Specialists

This team is available to help parents find schooling alternatives for their child to accommodate longer hospital stays. We also work with siblings of a hospitalized child to include them in the play process and educate them about what’s happening to their brother or sister.

Our Programs

Project P.L.A.Y.

Project P.L.A.Y. is a teaching and tour program for children ages 3-11 and parents, to help reduce any fears your child might have about staying in the hospital. We have found that offering just the right amount of careful, honest preparation before admission can help your child cope more positively with these experiences. Led by a Child Life specialist, this program uses dolls and real medical equipment to help you and your child understand and know what to expect before surgery and during your child’s stay. 

To make a reservation, please call 321.841.1203 at least one week in advance of your child’s stay.

PAL Program

The PAL program is specifically designed for teenagers, ages 12-18, to help ease any anxiety before hospitalization. This pre-admission program uses interactive teaching designed to answer the questions that are not asked by teens regarding surgery, anesthesia and recovery. Teens will also be taken on a hospital tour. This program is a great way for us to answer any questions you may have while your child is staying at the hospital.

To make a reservation, please call 321.841.1203 at least one week in advance of your child’s stay.

Want to help?

Donated toys, such as puzzles, games and creative art materials, provide a much needed form of distraction for our patients. Each floor of the hospital has a playroom where children are encouraged to spend time just being kids — even though they’re in the hospital. Our Child Life Team works with each patient to exercise their creativity and stimulate their minds. Generous donations help us provide a great experience for each child and family. View our Toy Wish List.

For Child Life Students — Internship and Practicum

Educational opportunities at Arnold Palmer Hospital are offered to both undergraduate and graduate students with multiple rotations throughout the year. Practicums and internships include exposure to various units within the hospital, collaboration with other healthcare disciplines and partnerships with community organizations. The programs are designed for students who have had the required academic preparation for their specific specialty; who have had experience working with children, families or adults; and who are interested in a career in a specialized setting. The goal of the programs is to enable students to apply their acquired knowledge and experience to sharpen and develop their skills.

Students should possess certain qualities if working with patients and their families. These individuals must display a sincere interest and ability in working with patients and families within a hospital setting. Students must also demonstrate flexibility, show initiative and enthusiasm, and have the ability to get along well with others. A commitment to the profession of child life or music therapy and a willingness to learn from every experience and situation is imperative to the success of the student experience.